Changes in Social Networks After Retirement: Comparison of the United States and European Countries

Won-tak Joo , University of Wisconsin-Madison
Michal Engelman, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Jason Fletcher, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The aging process includes a fundamental change in social networks, but few prior studies have considered the causal mechanism by which life events affect social network changes. In this study, we investigate how the experience of retirement alters social networks using the data from nationally-representative studies on older adults in the USA and 14 European Countries. Using country-specific pension eligibility as an instrumental variable, we show that retirement causes an increase in social network size and contact with kin members along with a decrease in contact with non-kin members. Next, we plan to examine cross-regional differences in retirement effects and discuss mechanisms by which social networks are adjusted to the new environment after retirement.

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 Presented in Session 94. Cross-National Studies of Retirement Policies and Processes